I Can’t Always Be an Amazing Superwoman

It was a soccer weekend, but possibly the last one ever.

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I graded on the field, in the car, and in a Starbucks. I read my book on the field. I stitched on the field and in a car. I almost finished two birds (photos later) that really only needed a shit-ton of embroidery. Which I did while watching soccer, even though the wind both days in the afternoon was so strong, I had to hold on to the block when I wasn’t actually sewing on it, so it wouldn’t blow away, and the thread would conveniently trail out horizontally in the air from the spool so I could cut it easily.

There were three games, all over an hour away. Sunday, we spent over 13 hours gone.

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We ate in a casino, drank in a Starbucks, and ate in a Wings n Things. THINGS. Yup. Had me some things.

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Girlchild has not looked into playing soccer at college. Honestly, she might need some adjustment time. She has a good scholarship, but it’s dependent on good grades.

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She’s smart, but ADD. And a procrastinator. And being 3000 miles away from home and on your own can mess with your ability to do everything.

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Thanks coach for letting us know which way the ball is going (he’s calling it for his team). Girlchild just headed it. Hence her weird positioning.

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She did make a goal, the winning goal in the third game. I don’t think it was here…there were more defenders trying to stop her…

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And she got whacked in the face…bloody nostril, but no black eye this morning.

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They lost the first two games, so it was nice to end the season (and most of their careers) on a win. Some will go on to play in college. Some are done forever.

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I hope she keeps playing, at least for fun. But if she does, I’ll be a million miles away, so I won’t be able to take a million pictures.

This is one of the songs I heard in the car on the way to and from and to and from Temecula this weekend…I like this song. The ex forwarded past it because he doesn’t.

Yeah. Whatever.

I came home and cleaned and got school stuff set up and kid stuff handled and kind of half collapsed, looking at the various artmaking activities I had around, realizing I had only 3 1/2 hours of sleep the night before, and went to bed. So be it. I can’t always be an amazing Superwoman.

Tonight though? Yeah. Back on track. I feel like I haven’t gotten anything artistic done in days. Gotta change that.

Put a Binding on It…All of It…

Oh holy hell, the daylight savings spring forward…it’s a Monday, it’s my birthday, and it was dark when I got up. The morning is making me nauseous. Not fair, as my students would say. I so want to go back to bed and sleep another hour or so, but the day marches onwards, with or without me, and unfortunately, I need to catch up.

Artwise, I used my weekend well…which is good, because the moods were like to kill an elephant. There is nothing pretty or pink about old lady hormone swings. They are more like a baseball-bat swing aiming at your head and uterus than a gentle porch swing with a glass of lemonade and a cute boy. So even when you try to manage the moods, plan for things that you know will help, sometimes life just doesn’t work that way and the brain can’t adjust quickly enough.

I started by quilting…with a cat almost on the quilt.

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I ran out of purple thread with just a small section left…turns out I would be cutting that off anyway.

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Although there was a weird break in the thread in a lower section that I had to cut and tie off, but you can’t see it, which is good, because I didn’t have any more purple thread that would match. So it was either go balls out and use orange, or hope no one could see it. The latter worked.

So here I was, achieving art, finishing stuff…but the moods, they descend upon you like a piano falling from a 3rd-story apartment window, like a tornado plummeting towards the earth from a sickly greenish sky, like a plane dead in the air pointing nosewards towards the nearest mountain or empty field, to strew metal pieces and body parts across a 10-mile swath of land.

And I thought music was OK. But Pandora, she is fickle. She can make me bounce and dance, and she can draw on my heartstrings and make tears drop from the tip of my nose, falling on the quilt as I stitch about 100 miles an hour, just missing my fingers.

And then this song…

It was somewhere around there that I realized it wasn’t even something under my control. I drew…

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And then I went to CIF finals…

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They make them line up and do all this processional stuff…I have lots of blurry pictures…

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The field lights were really bright, much nicer than the ones we have on our home field (I judge them by my ability to see my stitching), but not quite bright enough for good pictures. They played hard…they lost by one point though…a penalty kick in like the 71st minute. Which sucks. But they did get into the finals for the first time in four years, so that was a cool way for the girlchild to end her high-school soccer season.

There is no way I’m finishing this before I have to leave for school. And ugh. I am so not ready.

So now it’s after school, and I still feel like a bus slammed into me, but I had about 200 kids sing or say happy birthday to me (not all of them were my students), and even one of our security ladies came and gave me a hug (very sweet)…so it’s hard to stay cranky for long with that much teenaged love being thrown at you unconditionally. Because they hate you and love you and drive you nuts and beg for forgiveness, and that’s what teaching middle school is like. Oh yeah. And having teenagers.

So I decided a few things. First, I need to finish bindings because I was hoping to take my machine in to get it serviced, so I basically did all three bindings last night. I started by trying to find something in Mariah’s stash that would work for the recycled upholstery nude…

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Yeah. I clean up quick. Not. But it was EASIER because it was all still strewn on the floor (keep telling yourself that).

This one was a real strong contender from the pile, because it had the red orange from her hair and the purple from the background…but it wasn’t good enough.

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I was just intrigued by the orange/purple combination. I decided there wasn’t enough of it to get all the way around. Plus the strips were skinny.

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I really liked this one. It seems strange to put green with it, but there is green in the quilt. Not a lot…just a little.

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And the real kicker was that this was an offcut from something, probably an outer border or a backing. There were straight seams in it, but it was also wider than the other strips she had cut, and I like a doubled-up binding…easier to do the hand work I think. And I could get to 3″ wide on this…which is close to what I would do anyway…

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And I had the 100″ that I needed. Not a lot more, but hey…100″ is all I needed.

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Now I just need to do the hand-sewing. And email the magazine to make sure nudity won’t be an issue. Huh.

With that done, it was easy to turn to the other two smaller ones and do the same thing…

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I guess I was really hoping my machine guy would say, “Sure! Bring it in today!” Because I know I will need it during Spring Break to sew down the Ventura quilt. I don’t think I’ll need it before then…

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Turns out he’s as booked up as a gynecology department that assumes you are going through menopause and this isn’t the precursor to uterine cancer…or if it is, you’ve lived a long life anyway and there’s no rush.

Not really. I don’t disagree. So my machine is going in the first few days of Spring Break…it will be fine. Because I made an appointment, it will only be out of my hot little hands for 36 hours. I can survive that long. Seriously. I can. (Things Kathy will save in a fire: kids, animals, computer, sewing machine, quilts, sketchbooks. Huh.) Besides, I’ll be in the gynecology department. Ha!

I think I can finally focus on picking out fabrics. Maybe. If I can stay awake. What time is it? Hate. Daylight. Savings.

That Was Easy

Well, if you have a shitty day at work, then it’s easy to come home (after watching a soccer game) and say to yourself that you are done with your job for the day. There was a brief moment of guilt when I considered that I really should grade tests or extra credit or something, but then my art brain took over and explained how I had already used up THIS much energy on work today, and I wasn’t required to use up any more…so move on, little doggie, and make you some art.

Then there was the question of which project to work on, but I’ve got the Ventura quilt on my mind, kicking me in the frontal lobe, Hey! Get me done! Put me on the priority list! You don’t need to clean the house! I’m more important! So I cut out little pieces of Wonder Under while sitting on the couch with the girlchild, watching the same episodes of House that I’ve seen three or four times…until I finished. Wait. I finished. That was easy. I wasn’t expecting to finish cutting them out last night. But I said about 2 1/2 hours and it was just under two. Six hours and 17 minutes total…so not that far off the other one.

And it wasn’t super late…so I set up for sorting…

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One bin for each 100 pieces…you know, it’s funny. I have this procedure now that I use with every quilt, and I don’t remember when or how I came up with it…I mean, at some point, I must have been sitting there with a few hundred pieces of Wonder Under (back in the day when I didn’t make quilts with over 2000 pieces?) and thought, how can I better organize this? It’s been so long, I don’t remember starting to do that. But now I have bins that are numbered, so I just go hunt down (in this case) bins 0-8 and lay them out and start…

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Believe it or not, this quilt isn’t that complicated, so it was less than an hour. It’s funny that a 900-piece quilt is one I consider pretty easy to do at this stage in my art career. It’s big, but not huge. The one I’m planning for over the summer…I think I will be saved by the size restriction on it. Otherwise, it would have a million pieces in it.

Anyway, I’m ready for the next stage…fabric choice! Except I don’t have a background picked out yet, and that’s what I don’t usually have in my stash. I don’t know if I have time today to get a background…probably not, because she’s only open to 5 PM and I have dance practice (don’t laugh. It’s a long story, mostly unbelievable if you know me well enough) until 4:30 or so. Huh. So tomorrow probably, after school. I could do that. I should probably measure the drawing, though, so I know how much to get.

Exciting! I like the fabric part. The studio/office is a bit of a mess though, so I’ll have to deal with that too.

And complicating my schedule, as always, is soccer. Girlchild’s high school team was in the CIF (state) semifinals last night…

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They started with this lineup that included the 9- and 10-year-old club players who hopefully will be future high-school players, which was cute. Apparently we were on TV too (local TV station).

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It was a tense game against a team we had tied against before…

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A very physical game…

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Like check out the legs…

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By the end of the second half, it was tied 1-1, and it stayed that way until the last 20 minutes of the game, when we got our second goal…

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And under the light of the full moon, managed to keep the lead. There was a lot of screaming. This is the first time they’ve made it this far, and the finals are Saturday night. Not my favorite way to spend Saturday night, and I will have to stitch right through it to reduce the stress. Seriously…these games can shorten your lifespan if you don’t do something else while the girls play.

Anyway. It’s the last game of the high-school season…not to take a deep breath or anything, because the first tournament of the second half of the club season is two weekends later. Oh well. My trimester grades will be done by Saturday night…and worst-case? Her team comes in 2nd. Not a bad finish. And hopefully I’ll get some fabric ironed this weekend too (don’t think about having to grade tests and unit packets).

A Relatively Healthy Balance

I think I did an OK job this weekend of getting schoolwork done, but also feeding the art brain. There are only so many hours in the day, and stupid things like grocery shopping and laundry have to get done, but the remaining hours, they don’t all have to be about your job. I negotiated in my head…if I grade for the length of this TV show, then I will be able to work on art afterwards. That was Sunday. Saturday? Saturday I tried to grade, but got pissed off by some kid trying to cheat his way into a passing grade (because I’m an idiot and won’t catch him?), so I just stopped. I piled all the school stuff up, dumped my grading pens on top  of it, and walked the fuck away from it. Because when you get to the point that you’re angry about it, it doesn’t help anyone to be grading kids’ papers. And yeah, I’ll get a bunch of kids FREAKING out this morning because I didn’t update their grade (because they handed everything in late?), but I will just fix my laser glare upon them and they will instantly stop their whining.

Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

So I made art. And it looks like I did a lot, but really, it was only about 4 1/2 hours over the whole weekend (that’s not really a lot for me).

I pinbasted the upholstered woman (wait, that’s a better title than what I’ve been using so far)…

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And then I panicked about actually quilting it. I bought some heavier thread for it, because I thought my regular quilting thread would sink into the upholstery too much, but I was worried about how my machine would handle it…so logically, I turned to something I knew I could do…the cancer hands. I outlined them first…

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Which was a piece of cake and took very little time, despite those psychotic, spiky little breast cancer cells…

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And then I was lucky to have a thread that worked with the background…seriously, I don’t have much of a thread stash…so I started doing the backgrounds as well.

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And before I knew it, they were both done and it was time to head off for my daughter’s CIF soccer game…

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They were first in their division, so they didn’t have to play earlier this week. Saturday they played in the quarterfinals…it was a tense game. I stitched a lot. I can’t show you any of it though because we’re not allowed to, which I find kind of irritating, but whatever. I do want designers to make money off their work, but we live in America, Land of We Think Everything Is Free for the Taking, so designers have to protect themselves. And then we’re back to the kid who was cheating in my class, the kid I have to deal with today, the kid who is going to deny it all.

ANYWAY. I stitched. They tied at the end, and you can’t tie, so they went into 15 minutes of overtime…all the while, it was supposed to rain on us, but it held off…

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And with 3 minutes and 20 seconds to go, we scored the winning goal. Pro: we’re going to the semifinals! Con: we’re going to the semifinals! More soccer. More cold bleachers. More tense game-watching (more stitching?). It started raining as soon as I got in the car (thank you for that reprieve).

Sunday, I finally took a deep breath (after grading for a proscribed amount of time) and threaded my machine with the heavy thread and went for it…and at first thought it was going to be a giant clusterfuck…

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The thread required many prayers to the Goddess of Unbroken Thread, although there are some interesting nests on the back of this quilt. I cleaned them up the best I could…I managed to get all the way around this beast before going to the parentals to cook dinner (girlchild was sick). Then I came back and miraculously had the right color of thread for the background…

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which was way easier to quilt, a relief honestly. No super-slow stitching to persuade the machine to go through many layers of upholstery, no swearing as the thread shredded in the needle. Here’s the back…

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I didn’t finish all the background quilting, because I remembered that going to sleep on a Sunday night at a reasonable hour makes the rest of the week easier to get through. I usually forget this by Wednesday or Thursday night, unfortunately.

So I’m hoping to trim and bind the two hands, plus finish quilting this one as well this week. I’ve also got a pile of Wonder Under to cut out (and grades for Trimester 2 to finish, but I almost have that under control). Perhaps I should thank that cheating kid for throwing my brain under the bus and forcing me to make art instead of finishing the grading. It all turned out OK, right? As long as I can stay on top of the rest of the grades this week…thanks to my teacher’s aide and my refusal to take any more makeup work, I should be fine.

My constant goal of a healthy balance between all the parts of my life…the art brain always wants more than it gets. I don’t blame it…it certainly is the first to suffer when there’s an issue like illness. But I feel pretty good about what I got done this weekend, so I think I’ll just hold on to that feeling for a while…until I need to motivate myself past the next big step.

Ramble Much?

I started this Sunday and then completely forgot about it.

I think the hardest thing for someone like me to do is to just stop and rest. I suck at it. I tried a little Saturday and Sunday, but I have so much stuff to do that I can’t do it for long…although I’d really like to take a nap right now. I’m writing right now in order to procrastinate going to the grocery store…because I don’t really feel up to that…and it doesn’t really matter, because I have to do it. If I were just taking care of me, I’d probably blow it off and go take that nap, but it’s never really just me, is it? So no, I didn’t take time off work, which might be why I kept getting sicker, but as a teacher, it’s really difficult to take time off work, especially if you have to come up with a lesson plan that furthers the content you’re already teaching, but that a non-science sub can actually handle, and that’s just not easy to do. So it’s a wasted day (or two or three), and then you’re behind, and I’m already behind because grades are due in about a week and a half, and I’ve spent two weeks falling asleep at inopportune moments (like right after work), which obviously I needed to do, but there’s no backup on the teacher’s job…there’s no one who’s trained to do your thing and handle your kids and take over until you get well again. You just bully through. So I’m taking my meds and coughing like a fiend and trying to boost my energy and immune system and take care of myself and feed the family and get grades done and not collapse.

Really, I should take that nap. Sigh. Or go to the grocery store and get it done and in the fridge and THEN take the nap. I don’t know. Ask for more help probably. Text the girlchild and ask her if she’ll help with the shopping. Maybe.

It’s now Tuesday. You might be wondering what happened? Well, I did nap…after the grocery store. And then I worked some more and fell asleep on the couch. Eventually made it into bed. Yesterday, Monday, I actually felt pretty good. I worked all day, went to another store for stuff they don’t have at my grocery store, then came home and worked (for hours) to get caught up. Then the toner cartridge died, and unfortunately, it was something I really needed, so I drove to the store, because my app said they had two in stock, and then they couldn’t find them. And once they found one (where some asshole had hidden it behind another one), they wanted to charge me $21 more than the website. Anyway. By the time I got home and got through all the crap that had to be done yesterday, because we have one student who is going to be gone for three weeks, so I had to plan out until Spring Break and then revise a bunch of stuff because she won’t actually be IN the classroom (oh my god), it was after 8 PM. Twelve-hour day. It’s OK. I came out of the dark dismal den that is my office (OK, it has fluorescent lights, so it’s not really dark, but it also has a very demanding cat who wants to stand in front of the computer screen and sit on the mouse, so I was beyond frustrated at that point), and I sat with the girlchild, who unfortunately has prom on her mind. I offered her my prom dress (which was my aunt’s prom dress, so circa 1956?), and she cried. OK, she didn’t. She might have if I had forced the issue. It’s a very nice dress. I can see why she doesn’t want to wear it, though, because if you look at current prom dresses, they are made for girls who are obviously going to swanky cocktail parties with the rich and famous (WTF?). I suggested more of her body might be covered than the one I saw her friend buying, which looked like a bra with suspenders holding up a long skirt. Yeah. I am so out of it.

Then I finally thought I could trace some Wonder Under.

I made 23 minutes. Pure exhaustion. OK. I’m listening. I made it to bed eventually after tracing a whopping 40 pieces (well, it’s 40 pieces I didn’t have the day before), and realized that normally I wouldn’t have put in that many work hours before…well…sometimes I do, it’s true…but it’s getting better.

Unfortunately, about 10 minutes into my trying to actually fall asleep before the dead of night (see, my body is exhausted, but my brain won’t play along), girlchild comes in to tell me about the bomb scare at their school (it’s becoming a regular occurrence in their district…no real bombs…just dumbass kids who don’t want to go to school) and how one of the coaches (who is probably now fired) sent out a text to all his players telling them about it. When she left for school this morning…yes, I am the MEAN mom who makes their child go to school with bombs…she grabbed a bunch of snacks in case they went on lockdown (she wasn’t a Girl Scout for long, but damn, I did train her well), and I told her I loved her and not to let the terrorists win. Sigh. She’s texting me from school (it hasn’t started yet), and nobody is there. Great, she can get some one-on-one instruction! Yes, I’m a little crazy. I do think we Americans panic easily though. I don’t know how on Earth our ancestors made it here and survived (well, I guess the first few batches didn’t) all the hardships here without panicking and running back to from whence we came. It seems like all the kick-ass survival instincts were bred out over the years.

So this is obviously a philosophical post. I could show another picture of the 40 pieces of Wonder Under I traced. Or not. I do have pictures from Senior Night for girlchild’s soccer…but apparently WordPress is being bitchy and won’t let me load anything…oh wait…NOW you’ll let me do it. Technology. Lame. So obviously in this picture, my ex has something derogatory to say about the coach, who is standing maybe 10 feet away…

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All the other parents and kids were weeping, but no, we were making jokes while the girlchild threatened to kill us and we set voodoo curses on the coach so he would get boils all over his ass (no, I’m not vengeful at all…why do you ask?). I have promised the girlchild that we will do nothing to burn her soccer bridges, but that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about all the things we COULD do.


They’re in CIF now, so winding down to the end…three games more maximum. And then we go back to the relief of club soccer and a good coach and parents that only drive me half nuts instead of completely nuts. No more freezing games on bleachers…just freezing games on chairs instead (somehow it is more bearable on a chair…although I don’t have a chair…mine broke after 10 years and now I have to buy a new one for the last 4 months of soccer? Kinda lame, but I’m sure I will use it somewhere…at the beach? Huh. I’m not really a beach person. Maybe I should become one. I mean, I’m sending the last kid off to college. I can become a completely different person now. Once I’m done recovering from pneumonia. And I pick a job that doesn’t suck up all my waking…and nonwaking hours.).

AND…my doctor’s office just called to check up on my cough and make sure I’m not dead. That’s nice. “Are you taking your meds?” “No, I LIKE having pneumonia.” Yes, I’m taking my fucking meds. Duh. No, it’s nice to have them call.

My last commentary? Obviously my brain is functioning…it’s just my body that’s having issues…bows on bras? Why? I always cut them off. But what is the purpose? I do not understand. Yes, I am not a normal girl. I also don’t like pink. Except my pink fabric stash is huge…not as huge as my black and white stash, but huge nonetheless, because I do a lot of human figures, so the flesh tones run into the pinks, and they fill up a ton of drawers here. But there’s a good reason for that.

Ramble much? Yeah. Whatever.

Meditative Breathing, My Ass…

OK, so I know I’m sick with something. I have a cough. I have phlegm. It’s green. When I took Sudafed, I felt better, less shaky, less dizzy, less spacy. There are some other symptoms that are cold-like or flu-like. Then I’m having chills or hot flashes almost constantly, but no fever. I even got up last night and checked my temperature AND blood sugar to make sure it wasn’t that, because I couldn’t sleep. I felt not only like I was on fire, but like I needed to get up Up UP. Like something was really wrong. I hate that. I needed to be out of bed. So I did what (some of) my ancestors would do. I got up and made a cup of tea (the rest of my ancestors would have had a beer, before they were diagnosed with diabetes). Yes, I realize caffeine and a hot drink when you’re hotflashing do not make any sense, but since the slow, controlled meditative breathing I’m supposed to do wasn’t working for shit, I went for comfort tactics, and I stayed up for an hour plus reading blogs and slowly drinking tea until I yawned again. Then I headed back to bed, where the hot flashes and the distinct feeling that something was wrong continued. More meditative breathing. A cat attacking my head (I guess I was breathing wrong). Finally fell asleep after 4 AM. Not good.

I hate not being able to trust my own body. There are too many meds messing around in there. Too many things that could go wrong. I know if I go to Urgent Care about the nonstop hot flashes and chills, they will just blame menopause or whatever virus I have, and maybe that’s what it is…maybe it’s all about hormones gone awry and there is nothing else that is making me feel so wacky crazy. Ask me again about intelligent design? I guess if God were a middle-aged man and he was trying to get rid of his aging, menopausal wife so he could date a younger woman, this is how he’d go about it. Make her look crazy so it would be OK to dump her for the cute young thang. Get his teeth done. Color his hair. If that’s the god you believe in, I wish you luck.

Dear doctors: it’s not a hot FLASH if it never stops. Please look up the definition of flash and get back to me.

Anyway, despite all that crazy (and it does feel like crazy, even in the broad defining daylight of morning, a morning where you have to go to school and be fully functional), I did stitch a little last night…

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All I did was stitch them down. I wanted to get so much done on my day off yesterday, but I felt like crap most of the day. I did manage to go to the chiropractor, so either the headaches were the neck being out of whack or they were early stages of this weird malady I have, because they are gone.

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Although I did have a heating pad on my neck while I did these. I also graded papers, but I didn’t get very far. I didn’t eat very much either. Probably not a good thing.

I had this photo on my camera of the entire fence in front of SCRAP…

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Little samples spelling out the name.

And this picture of the girlchild…

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I think she actually headed it, although it’s hard to tell from this photo. Soccer right now. Sigh. It’s a clusterfuck.

Anyway. The car is going in today (all the dash lights flashing along with the Check Engine light), so I have no ride home (yet…have three contenders for the job). I feel like crap. I’m still hotflashing. I’m full of green phlegm. I feel completely off. And it’s an assembly day, so school on speed. Fun stuff. Meditative breathing…my ass. Oh, I’ll DO it, but you know it won’t stop the crazy or the hot. Meds. Removable layers of clothing. I got this. I’m not happy about it, but I got it.

Evolution of a Drawing

I stared at the middle of the torso for a good long time last night. I even tried putting the headphones on to drown out Gilmore Girls (girlchild) and meditated (while standing, while staring at the drawing). Honestly, I haven’t meditated in a while and I need to get back in the practice of it, as the stress levels of this week are reminding me. When the session was done, I was staring at tree pictures. I googled Trees of the World. Baobab came up, but I thought it was something else, and that wasn’t what I wanted, so then googled Trees Africa and got the Acacia (oh YEAH, that one)…and I drew three of them. And then I googled Elephant because for some reason, I wanted to do an elephant. I’ve never put an elephant in a quilt. Now seemed the right time. In the end, three of them appeared…

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Because they travel in groups, in families. Three acacia trees as well…do they travel in families? Then I had this blank spot to the right to fill in the left hip. More staring. Lots of staring. I think the girlchild had gone to bed by then and I was on Walking Dead. Not that either show is particularly helpful in the drawing process. But I finally decided, after trying to put a dog in there about 15 times and being stymied by how to make it fit in the space without being cartoonish, because nothing else in this was particularly so, that a plant should go there…trying to balance plants and animals in the torso. And I thought a fruit tree would be good, because…well…because I can add colors besides brown and green. I started considering how this will actually LOOK, colored in, and my brain freaked out.

So I drew an apple tree…

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And here’s one of the core problems with enlarging a drawing and then continuing to draw on it…I draw too much detail when it’s not enlarged. OK, I draw the same amount of detail…it’s just fucking SMALL. So that tree is kind of crazy for the amount of space it’s taking. But whatever. I could have just drawn leaves with no stems. Or not. My brain said not. I did want to draw lots more elephant wrinkles and I forced myself to stop. I told myself that the Essence of Elephant was all that mattered, that everyone would know it was a fucking elephant without all the wrinkles. But someone will ask me “why elephants?” Remind me to say, “because they travel in groups and have families and mourn their dead and attack lions and are just generally kick-ass animals.” Better yet, just say it for me, because I might not be there.

The next problem was that I couldn’t tell from a drawing that covers my light table whether it read OK as a whole, because I couldn’t see the whole damn thing. So I dropped it on the floor and stood on the piano bench to see…

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Interesting movement here. I did have an issue with the big wide open space at the bottom left. It was bugging me. So I added trees.

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They’re not huge, but they move the eye back up towards the lightning bolt, so you don’t fall off the page. I just realized that this morning.

At that point it was midnight. Let’s go back in our heroine’s story, where we always tell her that she doesn’t get enough sleep and she should stop working an hour before she’s ready, because sleep is healthy and she has eyeball dissections today and a field trip Friday and those two things are enough to kick her ass with a normal amount of sleep.

What’s normal for me though? No sleep. You got it. I wanted to know how many fucking pieces I would be dealing with here. I didn’t want to wait around for that information, because it would have been Friday night before I knew, and that’s unbearable. So I numbered…

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Goddamned tiny tree. I numbered for 59 minutes. Wanna take bets on numbers? C’mon. Think a number in your head. I did this on the last quilt and only one person was close.

There are 891 pieces. Actually, one piece got numbered twice, but inevitably there will be a piece I missed, so let’s just call it 891.

You know, that’s not so bad. But I thought I had 5 1/2 months and I don’t…I can’t count. It has to be photographed by June 15. Four and a half months…four if I make sure there’s photography time. Plus two other small quilts that need doing in the same time period. Uh huh. I can do it. No problem. The last big quilt had 768 pieces and took 80 hours and I (crazily) finished it in 6 weeks. So I think I can pull this off.

So I have now conquered the problem of a non-nude, non-political, non-violent quilt…well, except I have to make it and then the juror has to pick it. Minor issue. And I’ll be pissed if it gets into tons of shows while my other more controversial pieces languish in the closet. So I guess not sleeping is mostly worth it. I seem to be able to harness the creative beast. I mean, we did have soccer last night too…

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Yes, she is actually heading the ball…

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I sewed through all of it. I was too done with school to do any grading. And then I came home and made dinner while listening to the girlchild read her history textbook to me (this is how she learns…I understand…I do that too)…and then I roused myself off the couch for the drawing part, starting around 8 PM. You know, when I should have been thinking of going to bed soon. Silly brain. But that’s how I get it done.

Late Nights in My Head

It is apparently a Nirvana morning…which is definitely better than the Cheap Trick from yesterday, which haunted me all fucking Friday. It didn’t help that I spent most of the day hacking student accounts (they do give us the passwords for a reason) and trying to track down their projects so their grades weren’t absolutely horrendous…just sort of horrendous (Student: “I know we did a couple of minutes of video!” Me: “I have 36 seconds.” Student: shocked look). My brain needed a huge dose of sugar in the AM (which I did not give it) and by the end of the day, was just whimpering and refusing to cook dinner or even get off the couch. It’s OK, the pizza guy remembers me. He’s this old guy who’s scared of the dog who died almost two years ago, so he always calls from the driveway so I can put her somewhere safe (Um. Dude. She’s in a box in my bedroom. Yeah. I know that’s weird, but whatever.). And then he tells me he missed me. Nice guy.

Anyway, so I started by blasting music this morning because girlchild was up early for a college interview. She’s leaving an hour and a half early, because she IS like me in some ways. I’d rather be there and know where I need to be and sit in the car and read for an hour than be rushing around trying to find the place. Boychild? Not so much. I think he is like his dad in that he has faith that it will take X minutes to get there and it always takes X minutes. In my case, I know X is gonna get fucked by Y and Z and then beat up in the parking lot by a gang of punctuation marks. And there’s some things you just don’t want to be late for…

Anyway, I’m finally trusting Pandora to not fuck with my head any more (and there are so many variables to why that works right now, I can’t even tell you…there ARE some things I don’t write about to the whole world, believe it or not), so I have a soundtrack this morning while I’m trying to collect my thoughts after staying up Way Too Late. I don’t know why I do that. I really don’t. I think I hate lying in bed and not being able to sleep, so I just stay up until the only thing I can do when I get into bed is pass out. Last night, I started working on grades at 6:30 while waiting for the pizza guy (OK, really, I started at the soccer game), and I was done at 10:45. It really doesn’t usually take that long, but the server for the grade program was freakin’ slow. It kept hanging, so I would log out and log back in to get it to respond. There was a lot of wait time. But it’s done. And I even figured out how to make it use my alternate grading scale, because I don’t believe a 64% should be a D-…62%? Sure. But let’s give those other kids a break.

So I finished grades on a Friday night for the first time in a million years. Why? Because I don’t want to think about school all weekend. Although I have to plan next week a bit. But for a short, 4-day week, this one kicked my butt mentally. Field trip drama, sick teacher, kids flailing on post-holiday behavior? Drives teachers to drink. Really.

When I was done, it was time to play with fabric. I wanted to draw, but didn’t have the mental energy left to do so. Welcome to my world. I didn’t have my little scissors with me Thursday night, so I didn’t cut out all the little spiky bits on the cancer cells…so I did that last night…

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Them’s some freakin’ tiny ass pieces. Sharp tiny scissors…I didn’t use them in the old days, because I didn’t want to waste the sharp points, but now I just figure they are part of my tool set. If I need to buy more, so be it. It’s no different than buying more fabric or Wonder Under. I don’t know why I think of scissors as being such sacred devices. Maybe because Mom had the same pairs of scissors the whole time I was growing up and I would constantly get it trouble for using the wrong ones for paper or fabric or food or whatever. They’re not that expensive any more…easy to replace when they get screwed up, or just take them in for sharpening. They aren’t your great-grandmother’s scissors that she used to cut the umbilical cord on her 4th child.

When I was done with those things, I cut out the other drawing’s worth of Wonder Under…

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Really, I should have gone to bed. It was really late. But my head gets in that late-night place where sleep is the last thing it wants to do. I somehow start to wake up again. I wanted to draw at that point, but kept looking at the clock and arguing with myself. The mom part eventually won and took myself off to bed, where I again slept badly. Something about noise and brain doing weird stuff in the middle of the night. I wake up and put my pillow over my head to deaden the sounds of Kitten cleaning herself, or I reach out to touch her, because she is my middle-of-the-night safety…when you wake up and adrenaline is rushing through you and you don’t know why (could just be hormones or a raccoon or someone tromping quietly through your hallway towards your bedroom…you just never know). I get so tired sometimes I think, well, if it is someone in the hallway, they aren’t going to be able to find anything and they’re going to trip over the box in the hallway, so I’ll just go back to sleep and find them on the floor in the morning, head conked by hitting the door on their way down.

The brain is really not interested in the calm meditative things that help it sleep. I should say that I think meditation was the best thing I did for myself over a year ago. Even though I’m not doing it every day at the moment (time!), I seem to have trained the mom part of the brain, the part in charge, to use the meditation techniques without even thinking about it.

There was soccer last night…

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Lots of yelling and screaming.

Google Drive rejected me this morning…

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I don’t blame it. I’ve been fucking with it for three days now. It should reject me. Seriously, what do they want this message to actually MEAN? Like it’s in Timbuktu and will be back in May or the phone line is out? Or it’s on an extended lunch break? I just don’t know. Is Google Drive taking a shower and will call back later? I need more details.

OK, so I need to go to the gym so I can read my book without feeling guilty. Then I will come back and pack up all the boychild’s stuff (he did finally answer after two texts and an email). Then I will do stuff I want to do for the next 20 hours or so. I might draw. I might not. It’s hard to say. But whatever I do, it’s to make up for all the brain cells I punished this week with my job. I think that’s what the late-night musings and inability to put myself to bed mean…it’s a cry for time that is not ruled by grades and assignments and behavior mods and educational technology and interventions and all that crap. Take my brain out for a walk. Feed it something good. Let it watch something and just hang out. It deserves that.

Feeding the Artist Brain

The logical thing to do last night, after the first exhausting week back at school, would have been to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I yawned 700 times at the soccer game, fell asleep on the couch after dinner with my computer on my lap (apparently grading), snoring away while the kids stared. I was fucking tired. But no. The artist brain was whining, complaining. It wanted to finish the binding on that little quilt. It wanted it done. AND. AND. (it wanted to draw. it told me. i had ignored it for weeks…)

So the thing with the artist brain is that lots of us have this tendency to create, to make, but it’s harder to get off the couch and go into the studio and make than it is to just go to bed. I really should have gone to bed. But then I wouldn’t have the start of this drawing…

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Because that whole thing started at about 11 PM. And I kept feeding it with tea and wine and Walking Dead, and it kept spilling out…and at some point, it stopped…even though there’s a whole left side to fill in. But wow. I always forget how good it feels to just push the pen around on paper, to stare at the paper for 20 minutes sometimes, waiting for the image to spill out, and then it’s magically there. I don’t even remember uncapping the pen and making the lines. It’s just there. It’s not magic. It’s years of feeding the artist brain…of giving it the time and space and honestly respect to create, even though grades are due and I haven’t finished grading projects and at some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and be a teacher and do the work. You know, in ten years, I probably won’t be a teacher. I will still be an artist. So yes, I have to be a responsible teacher too…

But not last night. Friday nights are mine, dammit. Fuck work. There is nothing in my contract to state that I have to give my job my soul, despite what the politicians want teachers to do. Y’all don’t pay me enough to have my soul, you assholes.

I also numbered these two little guys…

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which have way more pieces than they should for their size. The smaller one is about 6″ square and the larger one is almost 9″ tall. I’m hoping to get those done in the next week. They’re kind of an experiment. Then I have one piece that’s supposed to be done in April and I need to look at the requirements…and the two in July…and a big one by Spring Break. Wow. I’m not overplanning or anything. Whatever. Artist brain demands. I am in the mood to keep feeding it.

I finished this one last night…

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And then I decided to add ink this morning…

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Hard to see the difference in the photos, but I know it’s there. I don’t know how old the drawing is, but I numbered it almost a year ago, thinking I would do some smaller quilts last year, and then the birds took over. It’s called Hold Me and it’s about 18″ square. It took 12 1/2 hours to complete. Doesn’t sound like much, until you realize I work a 60+ hour week as a teacher on a good week (bad weeks are 70-80 hours).

Nope. Sleep not a priority. Last night? I was not in the mood for sleeping once I took up pen and paper, needle and thread. Grading? Hell yeah, it was knocking me out. I suspect that tells me something important. How do I make so much art? Because it keeps me awake.

And you know I did all that after a full day at school and a couple hours at a soccer game. I love it when they play this field because of the colors…

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Girlchild got hit by three girls at one point and went down…

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Bruise on her jaw, her chest, and her head…no concussion. She’s a tough kid. College apps are done. Now we wait. Finals are next week. She’s a little emotional at the moment. Plus the boychild leaves tomorrow night. I think he’s relieved to go back…bored here? No one is ever home, it’s true. I will miss him again though. Cooking will get a bit easier though…no worrying about what we can’t cook, although he is much more likely to eat vegetables than he used to be. I’m glad of that. Too bad we can’t persuade him that pigs are food and steak is like manna from heaven, if heaven were made of cow.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back to that drawing some time in the next week, and to get the two hands going…because I have to listen to that part of my brain. It keeps me centered…happy. It deserves to be fed.

Binding Late

I have a significant callus on my middle right finger from a teeny tiny needle poking the crap out of the same spot. I don’t thimble, because I just move to a different finger if there’s a thimble there. Can’t figure the logic of that out, but if you hang out with me long enough, you’ll realize logic isn’t my strong point. I’ve got it…it just doesn’t look like yours.

I had a goal last night of finishing grading one assignment from December (ugh) and then I would be allowed to work on the two quilts that are hanging out in my office at the moment. Or is it my studio. Some days it’s hard to tell. It’s my Offudio. Or my Stoffice. My Studice. Those are awful. It’s my workspace. Anyway…I managed to grade everything during the girlchild’s game because she was sick and only played 20 minutes…so instead of sitting there and stitching (I could have worked on birds…although I haven’t been doing that much), I graded those suckers and got them done. Insert hallelujah here. Don’t get really excited yet though, because the huge project from before break is still ungraded and mocking me.

Dinner was in the crockpot, although despite an email, a verbal reminder, and a text, the boychild forgot to put it in and turn it on (sigh)…when girlchild got home, she put it in on high though, and it worked fine. So while dinner finalized (aka tater tots…the sign of a good mom), I logged grades and listened to the snuffles of the sick child who has three college apps due today that she has not done. After dinner, I started working.

I started with the outline quilting of the FFAC The 100 donation quilt…

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This is not a big quilt. When the outlining was done, I went on to the background quilting…

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That didn’t take long…seriously, total quilting was barely over an hour.

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Trimmed it. It’s about 10×12″.

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Then I trimmed the other one that’s been lying around for days and found a binding that worked for both of them…they’re kind of in the same blue tone, although the donation quilt is much brighter…and I got the binding on…

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This one is bigger, about 19×18″. It needs ink too. I’m about halfway done with the binding on it. Yes, I stayed up way too late. At some point, I looked at the clock and chastised myself, realizing I COULD stay up and finish the binding, but that was fucking crazy. So I went to bed. You don’t want to know what time.

I did actually finish the binding on the little one. Ouch.

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The ouch is for the hole in my finger. The quilt’s really not that lumpy…in the picture above, it’s all pinned and it distorted it. I’ll photograph it for real this afternoon. It’s nice and flat and square corners. Really. It still needs a label. I couldn’t name it last night…but this morning while resizing the photos, it came to me: Fly, Be Free. I say it all the time. So there’s my third finish of 2015. If you like it, you have a 1 in 100 chance to get it through the FFAC The 100 donation drive on February 4.

It’s funny. I want to make another big quilt before Spring Break. I really do. And I have no shortage of drawings that could become a large quilt. But then it’s so easy to make these little ones…it’s tempting to just do one every couple of weeks instead. I have enough smaller drawings…I could totally do that. And there’s the greater possibility that small pieces will sell. There are two small ones I’m doing after this, the hand/cancer cell pieces. The big ones are the better pieces for shows though, so I need to work on that (so I can get more rejections! Now there’s attitude for you.). Realistically, I can only make 5 or 6 big quilts a year, and that would be starting now. I’ll have to decide soon. Because I have this art drive that does not freakin’ stop. No down time, I guess. I should not complain…no artist’s block for me. Knock on wood.

Soccer…yeah…even sick, she played well…

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Although this was a moon ball.

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Back to work. The school type of work…another day of trying to explain how the brain works. I probably shouldn’t be talking…